Thanksgiving at Spruce

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, period. When I was a kid, we used to have huge feasts that seemed to last all day and mysteriously re-appear for the next week in various disguises. Thanksgiving dinner is a ritual. You know exactly whats gonna happen.

11am: Dress up nice for the in laws and wear the biggest pants you have
1pm: Full Thanksgiving mode, food on the table, biggest decision, more stuffing or stealing the rest of the dark meat you hid below all the carved white meat
2pm: very close to bursting, mind says keep going, stomach urges you to stop. Note: always listen to your stomach
3pm: waddling around like an overweight penguin, strategically planning how to lure cousin from sofa to snag the "thanksgiving nap", tell him grandma wants to talk to him, works every time
4pm: quiet slumber, can't get dreams of flying turkeys out of my head
5pm: you would think not possible but craving a turkey, cranberry and mayo sandwich, b-line to the kitchen
6pm: can not stand the smell of turkey any more, till next year.

Well, we may be far away from home, but cooking Thanksgiving dinner is for me one of the highlights of my year. I love it. We have two options this year. You can book a family style feast in our private dining room with a whole roasted turkey and all the fixin's or come in for a 3 course set that has everything on one plate. Either way a great way to spend the night. Please call the restaurant to book your spots now. Cheers!

Here are both the menus:
Family Style: Private Room 10-14 pax at 80++ per person
First Course
Pumpkin Soup with Chestnuts, Maple and Brioche Croutons

Served Family Style
Main Course
Roasted Tom Turkey Cornbread Stuffing with Pan Gravy
Mashed Desiree Potatoes with Salted Butter
Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Truffle
Sautéed Wild Mushrooms with Herbs
Roasted Apples with Cardamom, Cinnamon and Rosemary
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Winter Salad of Persimmon and Pomegranate
Dessert Warm Ginger Date Pudding with Chocolate Toffee Sauce
Coffee or Tea

Three Course Set: $65++ per person
First Course
Pumpkin Soup Chestnuts, Maple and Brioche Croutons
Holiday Spiced Foie GrasApple Variations ($10 Supp)
Winter SaladPomegranate and Persimmon

Main Course
Roasted Tom Turkey Cornbread Stuffing with Pan Gravy, Mashed Desiree Potatoes and Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Warm Ginger Date Pudding Chocolate Toffee Sauce
Coffee or Tea


Wine Dinner Series

I am very excited to announce my new pet project. It will be a monthly dinner series featuring some of the most exciting and inspiring wines from all over the world. Our private room was designed with this dinner series in mind, to intimately host up to 12 diners. Our first dinner is a great one and features wines made in beautiful and bountiful, Tasmania. Kreglinger Wine Estates have a long history of producing some of the finest sparkling wines outside of champagne and also have many other projects including the illustrious Ninth Island and Pipers Brook Vineyards which are becoming reknowned for making extraordinary Pinot Noir. Our first dinner is next Thursday October 8, 2009. I have only a handful of spots left so please let me know soon if you would like me to reserve a place for you or call the restaurant directly to make a booking. Below is the menu and the wines we will be featuring. I can't wait and hope to meet some of you there. All the best and cheers!

Kreglinger Dinner october 08, 2009 $95++
Winemakers Dinner with Nathan Hyde

First Course
Marinated Tuna avocado red radish kaffir lime
Kreglinger, Sparkling, Brut, Tasmania, 2003

Second Course
Burrata Cheese momotaro tomato basil ligurian olive oil
Ninth Island, Pinot Grigio, Tasmania, 2008

Third Course
Japanese Scallops golden raisin ras al hanout green apple
Pipers Brook Estate, Riesling, Tasmania, 2007

Fourth Course
Sweet Onion Crepe reggiano parmigiano white truffle
Pipers Brook, Reserve, Pinot Noir, 2004

Fifth Course
Grilled Filet of Beef mushroom beurre rouge potato fondant
Pipers Brook Estate, Tamar Blend, Tasmania, 2004

Coconut and Blueberry Tart vanilla bean ice cream


The Creative Process

The mind of a chef is often filled with taste and flavor memories, seemingly shook up over time like one of those snow globes that everyone recieves at Christmas. Most often the context of a new dish is created in my head and eaten before a fork can even get close. Questions like texture and temperature contrast are debated at length and whether the dish has consistency or execution issues or wether it costs too much. But, the most important question is, Does it taste great?

I always feel that a great dish is one that has gone through a rigorous editing process. In that I mean, ingredients and techniques are scrutinized and the question is asked: What does this particular ingredient or technique do for the dish? If I cannot answer that question then it gets removed and I move on. I am currently developing a few new ideas for dishes to add to the menu and this is the process I go through. Many times, conceptually the dish sounds great and in my head I can taste the components working together, but in reality there is a diversion or confluence of other matters at play. I would say out of ten dishes I conceive theoretically only 1 will ever actually make it to the plate and your stomachs.


New Happenings

Hey, sorry for the looooooooong delay. I didn't realize its almost been two months since I posted last, how crazy. In any event, we have been working hard everyday to make your experience here better than the last and we have a host of new updates for everyone out there. First, the space, we have just finalized plans for our new bar on our lower patio which will feature a Japanese style sit-down bar framed by mid century modern furnishings and raw wood tables and bar counter. I am truly excited not only for the bar but also because we have retained the skills of a japanese trained bartender who used to serve me my favorite cocktails at Coffee Bar K. Expect really great cocktails, hand carved ice and a selection of wonderful libations from the world over.

For those with Children, we have just completed our Spruce Playground which should serve as a great tool to keep the kids occupied while you try to get a good cup of coffee in the morning, undisturbed.

We have also been working on and are completing a Spruce Canteen, a small takeaway hut just at the top of Phoenix Park that will serve some local favorites, our bakery goods and of course a few Spruce special features such as the SpruceDog!

I have just amended all of our menus to include some new items for both lunch and dinner. A tuscan inspired Antipasto Salad with fire roasted Capsicum, chickpeas and green olive vinaigrette is my new favorite. Our rendition of the "Fathers Office" burger was so popular we decided that it had to be on the menu full time, so it is. Lastly, what is fast becoming our signature dessert, The Spruce Sundae, has finally moved from feature item to the full time menu. I would tell you more but I think you have to experience the Sundae for yourself to make up your mind, it is truly decadent.

For Brunch you have to try the new Steak and Eggs Benedict with Black Pepper Hollandaise on toasted Ciabatta, it is easily one of the best things I have created this year and as an aside is a great hangover remedy. Also, don't miss our Spruce Cinammon Rolls that are baked fresh to order. The wafts of cinammon and sugar as they pass through the dining room are intoxicating.

I think thats it for now. Hope to see all of you soon. Cheers!!



This business is all about one thing, making people happy. That's it, very simple. It could be as straightforward as making a perfect cup of coffee for someone on an early Sunday morning or as elaborate as arranging a flawless event for someone to celebrate as special moment in their lives. While that may sound easy, the steps involved to make each person who visits the restaurant happy is numerous. Consider this, I had a guest last week who thought the food was fantastic but the sound of a servers shoes on the hard wooden floor annoyed her to no end and that little thing was a huge thing to her(note: he has new shoes now). Conversely, I recently had a guest who found the service by a particular staff to be gracious and warm, while another guest found the same person to be cold and inattentive.

The complexities of human interaction and the perception of similar circumstances and events are fascinating to me. These complexities pose a challenge to me and my staff and we constantly talk about how to "read" certain tables for clues on how they would like to be served. This of course takes experience and time as well as an innate ability to anticipate the needs of someone who you just came into contact with. What this also means is that everybody has different expectations, whether it be of the food, service or ambiance.

We are all formulating a subjective response to the situation. I strongly believe in the products, people and place that we have here at Spruce and when we fail to meet a guests expectations I am honestly very hurt. I also believe that we can't be everything to everyone. We are who we are and while some people may think we are great others may think differently and that's ok. All we can do is move forward and look at ways to become better and act accordingly. I think as a restaurateur you must be confident in your product and not be afraid to feel strongly about the services and products you provide. But, you also must be humble and admit when you were wrong and make it right. Till next time.


The next step

We have started to settle in at the restaurant and our days are becoming more routine. I have finally had some time to refine some of the dishes, look at possible new ones and more or less get back to cooking everyday. My goal was always to keep the food fresh and exciting and by that I mean not only on a purely product level, but continuing to evolve and change dishes as we go in rhythm with the seasons or just from inspiration.

A few new ideas play around the concept of our burger. While we think the Spruce burger is great, we all know that burgers can be a wonderful canvas for supporting many different flavors. I have always wanted to reference some of the great burgers I have had from other places and as such will start tomorrow with the introduction of the "Fathers Office" Burger. A homage if you will to the now famous Los Angeles Institution serving its burger with a caramelized onion and bacon compote with blue cheese and garlic mayonnaise. Stop in and tell me what you think.

My team and I have also started to explore foods and flavors of our childhood to bring back and put a twist on, so this week for brunch we will be featuring Blueberry Waffles with Real Maple Syrup, Vanilla Ice Cream and Homemade Streusel and Warm Buttermilk Biscuits with Poached Eggs and our Homemade Sausage Gravy.

Please feel free to ask for me if you have been reading the blog. I always love to meet new guests. Cheers!


Operating Hours

Thank you to all who have commented on the blog. I first want to address our revised Operating hours as they have changed recently.

Monday-Friday 10.30am-10.30pm (last food order 10.15)
Serving Bakery Items, Coffee and Tea from 2.30-5.30

Saturday & Sunday 8.30am-10.30pm (serving brunch from 8.30-2.30 both days)
Serving Bakery Items, Coffee and Tea from 2.30-5.30

I appreciate those of you taking the time to write and we are working on many things to make the experience here much better, including the answering of phone calls. I genuinely want everyone to have a great experience with us, and unfortunately there have been some stumbles along the way, so for this I apologize, but know that we are committed to creating a great all around restaurant. Thanks for your understanding.